Friday, November 11, 2005

ozone hole

And now for something completely different...

I heard on the Js (TripleJ that is) yesterday that the ozone hole this year was the size of three Australias. That's a pretty big hole. So I decided to look into it (it's a hole, after all).

From talking to my Northern Hemisphere friends, I discovered that many people don't even know the ozone hole exists, or what exactly it is. In fact, it's a thinning of the ozone layer over Antarctica, occurring roughly between September and November each year (actually, I hadn't realised it's a seasonal occurrence...). It was first discovered in 1985. The 2005 ozone hole was one of the deepest and largest recorded.

The hole in the ozone layer is caused by CFCs in the atmosphere, produced largely in the USA and Europe (being the most populous countries). Thanks guys!

The ozone hole allows more UV-B to reach the surface of the earth. As a result, Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world (and I'm sure NZ isn't far behind). UV-B also affects phytoplankton (and therefore fish population), the DNA of marine bacteria, the larvae of starfish and urchins, and ocean chemistry.

Although emissions of CFCs has pretty ceased, the effects continue. This is just one example of humans killing ourselves and the environment in the name of progress. All our energy production and many other technologies come at a cost, mostly to the environment and often to ourselves too.

So next time you turn on the the airconditioning or the heater (depending on which hemisphere you're in), consider setting it a little less extreme. I like knowing there is a layer of ozone between the sun and me.